Mr. T. Coles
09 April 2010
Teen Depression: A Growing Epidemic “Depression is a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” (Mayo). For many people, the feeling of sadness continues for months, years, or, if left untreated, even a lifetime (Human). Depression affects how one feels, thinks, and behaves (Articlesbase). For such people, depression is a serious illness. A person does not necessarily have to be an adult to become depressed. Teen depression is actually, quite common (At-Risk). Teen depression is a serious health hazard, which causes many psychological and physical problems.
Studies show that about one in eight American teenagers actually has depression (Levin 8). About twenty percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood. Almost ten to fifteen percent of teenagers exhibit some symptoms of teen depression. About five percent of teens have major depression. Fifteen percent of teens with depression eventually develop bipolar disorder (Teen).
“Most adolescents go through periods of being bored with life, misbehaving, or taking risks.” When this kind of behavior goes too far or happens too often, it could be a sign of depression (Levin 29). Teenagers are at risk for depression because they experience many events over which they have no control (Weaver 40). Some of these changes can be the death of a loved one, the divorce of parents, and conflicts at home. Other changes that may have a traumatic impact on them are peer pressure, challenges in school, and the end of close friendships. While some teenagers cope with their problems through the help of friends and family, others are in need of professional help (Levin 26-27). Because teen depression can often be confused with typical changes in puberty, it is important for one to know the warning signs and symptoms of teen depression (Helpguide).
Depression can take a great toll on the mind of affected teenagers, and can cause them to have psychological problems. This can cause depressed teenagers to feel sad, discouraged, and hopeless for an extended amount of time (Levin 4). “Depression can trigger feelings of ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness” (Helpguide). Feelings of worthlessness make depressed teenagers extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure. They tend to develop a very low self-esteem. They may become more irritable and violent. “A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts” (Helpguide). They are very likely to show a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed (Helpguide).
Depression also takes a great toll on the body of depressed teenagers, and can cause them to have physical problems. Depressed teenagers may experience unexplainable body aches and pains. They will often complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches. Since depression can cause the depressed teenagers to have low energy and concentration difficulties, they normally begin having problems in school. One may see depressed teenagers socializing less than before, pulling away from their parents, or starting to hang out with different crowds (Helpguide).
Depressed teenagers normally start exhibiting careless behavior. They may start participating in dangerous activities such as, unsafe sexual practices. Also, a majority of them start abusing alcohol and drugs. These teens abuse substances in an attempt to “self-medicate” their depression. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes depression worse (Helpguide).
Self-injury is normally associated with depression. This can even include eating disorders. Because of the low self-esteem exhibited by most depressed teenagers, eating disorders happen to be very common. Depressed teens tend to hurt themselves for many reasons. They could be trying to gain the attention they are so desperately seeking or wanting to